Dancing Rain

My Life Inspired by My Loves

When Dinner Planning Gets Organized…

The result is better dinners and a happier mama! And a happier and healthier family too!

I am super organized and always hated the idea of thinking up what to make for dinner, let alone actually cooking it. I had no idea those two things could be related, but when I happened to stumble upon menu boards on Pinterest everything I thought I knew about making dinner changed!

I had frequently collected recipes in magazines, ads and even on Pinterest. But I had a hard time getting to the point of making those recipes. I decided to make a menu board as a potential way to help me organize my dinner ideas and maybe actually might lead to making some new meals. What I discovered was that not only was I trying new recipes, but I also became a better and more thrifty grocery shopper. And (a BIG and) I was actually getting excited about dinner time! At the end of the work day, I would look forward to making dinner! Talk about a complete 180!

My menu board is a compilation of different ideas I found on Pinterest. After browsing through various menu boards and thinking about how my mind works, I decided on this. I wanted to be able to see my options all at once and to be able to swap things easily (because let’s face it, plans change and tastes change).

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To make this, I used a side of a cardboard diaper box, covered it in scrapbook paper and then added sticker letters for the title and even added a spot for a shopping list. I used velcro for the meal ideas so I could easily move them around. I also added a small cardboard box, covered in paper as well. This would hold my extra meal idea tags.

To create the meal idea tags, I went through all my meal ideas I’ve collected over time and narrowed the choices down to what I considered doable, based on time involved (most 30-45 minutes or less), complexity (because I am a novice) and ingredients (using staples that I usually have or buy). Then I typed out each one, printed the sheet and cut them apart using my paper cutter. I color-coded my tags to distinguish the not-so-healthy meals so that I could make sure not to have too many in the same week or month.

As I said, the result has been more than I could have imagined! This is a huge help in my household, to avoid the daily struggle of deciding what to make and to help make sure I have what I need when I need it. I highly recommend it.

Soon I will share some of my favorite dishes!

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DIY Lei for Kids

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This is a great summer craft for the kids and nearly mess-free! Would be a great kid-friendly activity for a summer luau, pool party or family BBQ. My daughter made this at her daycare for a luau-themed party.

All you need are some colorful plastic straws cut into 1-inch pieces, green (or any color!) yarn cut to fit your child’s neck and colorful paper cut into flowers. If your kids are able, they could do the cutting as part of the craft.

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DIY “Halle-Luau” Teacher Gift

Check out this cute idea for a luau or Hawaiian themed gift to mark the end of summer! The card reads: “Halle-luau for wonderful teachers like you!”

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This is a simple dollar store gift, using a colorful cup, lei, coconut or tropical flavored candy, and lemonade flavor packets.

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Happy 30th Birthday Bucket Gift Ideas

Following my recent post about a 40th birthday gift basket, I also have a couple variations for 30th birthdays! They say 30 is the new 20, so these gift buckets focus on fun and celeration! They would be great for 21st or 25th birthdays as well.

Party Girl Birthday Bucket
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This gift bucket is simple to make, just requires gathering the items you need and about 20 minutes of assembly. You can find mini liquor bottles at most liquor stores. Get a good mix based on flavors the birthday celebrant likes, name of the liquor (some are called Kinky, Cake, etc.), and colors you want for your basket. Wrap some colored pipe cleaners around the top of each liquor bottle and attach it to a sturdy popsicle stick, skewer stick or dowel rod by continuing to wrap the pipe cleaner. From the party supply store (or online printables), place a big “30” on another dowel rod or large popsicle stick. For this I used a store-bought “30” centerpiece. To hold everything in place in your bucket, throw in some candy and any other goodies. I added a “30” pint glass, dial-a-shot game and “30” candles from the party store. Finish it with some beads decorated around the top of the bucket!

30 Ways to Celebrate Bucket
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I made this bucket for my little sister’s 30th as a partly celebratory and partly sentimental gift. It included things for her now and things that we used to like growing up.

The theme is “30 Ways to Celebrate” and included 30 gifts grouped together in several categories:

  • Pamper Yourself (1-3: facial masque, scented lotion and body wash)
  • Play (4-9: puzzle, iTunes gift card, beach ball, poppers, Barbie, princess autograph book for Disneyland)
  • Indulge (10-15: popcorn and candy)
  • Celebrate (16-20: silly string, sparklers, wine glass, wine bottle, beer bottle)
  • Reflect (21: a list of 30 of my favorite sister memories we shared)
  • Dress Up (22-24: jewelry)
  • Relax (25-27: pajama set and candle)
  • Get Lucky (28-30: lotto tickets)

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For the bucket I re-used a Popcorn Factory bucket that was given to me and that I kept because it screams party! I wrapped each item in coordinating patterned and solid color tissue paper and tied ribbons on many. I used mailing labels for the numbers. Finish it off with a couple “30” items from the party store, including a beaded shot glass necklace and a cut-out for the backdrop, which I taped to a festive straw to stick in the bucket. I printed the “Ways to Celebrate” and description on my printer, taped them to purple paper backings and taped them to the “30” cut-out. As you can imagine, not everything fit in my cute birthday bucket so I used a separate gift bag for overflow items. Not a big deal and it still looked great!

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“Celebrate 40” Birthday Gift Basket

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I am a fan of making gift baskets for milestone birthdays. For a friend’s 40th, I put together this gift basket.

The theme is based off the phrase “Some people say turning 40…” and each of the 40 items in the box follow this phrase:
…is wild
…is a gift
…makes you a cougar
…is magical
…is hot
…calls for a drink
…is spicy
…is happiness
…is a headache
…is great
…is crazy
…rocks
…sucks
…requires bling
…requires shots
…and so on… use your imagination to make your basket items fit the theme!

I recommend printing each phrase on mailing labels so you can easily stick them on to the paper backings. For the basket/box, I glue-gunned some coordinating ribbon around a plain white box. Carefully place the items in the box, taping things down if needed to prevent movement. Then use cellophane and more ribbon to wrap it up. You could skip the cello wrap, but I was bringing this gift to a party and didn’t want things to go missing.

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